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The New Capitalist: Melissa Bradley

When Melissa Bradley announced in grade school that she would like to be president, her single African American mother came home from her third job housecleaning with a reference book of American presidents. Together they leafed through the pages and discussed exactly what had to be done to reach the position. Despite the practical encouragement, Bradley noticed a few distinct differences between her and the American heads of state; “Just a few,” she says wryly, now thirty-eight years old.

“Growing up, I spent a lot of time thinking about the causes of inequality in America. It caused a constant question: how do you really level the playing field, so to speak?”

But her pursuit of social justice was always coupled with her deep faith in the capitalist system; “[I wasn’t really] looking for communism or socialism,” she said. “I truly believe in the free market system, provided that no one is marginalized.” Which led to her second major question: What would a new capitalism bring?

So Bradley founded her firm The New Capitalist, an organization that supports low-income and minority entrepreneurs. People may doubt how profit seeking might be compatible with the high ideals of social and economic justice, but Bradley is business-savvy to the core, right down to her disciple-like zeal for the game of golf.

“Within confined and defined social communities, golf is where the power resides,” she says. “I wanted to be part of that power. It’s a sport that’s bridged the gap between my world and the world of white male power brokers.”

Bradley recently became a Soros Justice Fellow and the founder and president of Re-entry Strategies Institute, a non-profit establishing national and local approaches for helping prisoners re-enter society for good. At present, 80% are incarcerated again. With Bradley’s power drive, maybe the presidency isn’t too far off.

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